Restoration presupposes that something is broken. Restoration isn’t something we wait for, expect over time or experience as a one time act, but it must be actively pursued, day after day. These are just a couple of notes I took down from last week’s final installment of #RelationshipGoals at The Brook Miami. I didn’t think a sermon about restoration and forgiveness in relationships would force me to admit that I’m angry. Unfortunately, this anger isn’t towards another person or a refusal to forgive. It’s an anger that has been kept buried inside by a façade that claims to understand and be content with God’s sovereignty. But in actuality, I’ve been angry at God for some time.
Let me take a step back and explain. During week 1 of #RelationshipsGoals, we discussed the beauty of singleness, and how some desires on this side of eternity simply will never be fulfilled…and that’s okay. While God may not call all followers of Christ to covenant marriage, he has called each of us to covenant community. God’s Sovereignty, in light of marriage, was actually an easy pill to swallow for me – I could be single for the rest of my life, and I’m alright with that.
A few weeks ago, however, I traveled back to my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri to attend a close friend’s wedding. While there, I spent a little bit of time with my family. Seeing them was bittersweet, because living away from family for the past two years has revealed that I have a bit of a superhero complex. My thoughts have gone so far as to think that my family’s life would be better if only I lived in the same city as them. Like, they would actually attend church or seek God more if I were around to encourage them.
The more I say that out loud, the more ridiculous it sounds. It’s a statement that’s filled with pride and arrogance, and lacks trust in a sovereign God.
That same weekend, I attended my former home church and listened to a sermon about God’s sovereignty, but in a different light – social justice – another area I’m quite familiar with. How do we continue to give God our praise in the midst of injustice? How do Christians share the message of the Gospel, practically, to others who are affected by these injustices? At this moment I remembered that some desires on this side of eternity will never be met. It is difficult to grapple praising a sovereign God when I have an aching desire to see my family be free from brokenness. My mind began to stir and the anger that I’ve held onto for a while began to surface.
What if it isn’t in God’s will to restore my family?
I don’t want to sound pessimistic especially since they are still alive and well. I still have hope and my prayers for them do not cease, but I began to wonder what my worship, devotion and love for God would look like if my family was never restored. If God is sovereign and I believe he is good, my worship should continue even if my deepest desires are not met.
Singleness for life? Cool. Social injustices never reaching a peaceful end? Fine – I’ll keep advocating. But seeing my family struggle with past and present issues and never give those hurts to Christ? – Makes me angry. After all, it is God who saves and he predestined adoption before time (Ephesians 1:5). What if my loved ones aren’t in that group? Words cannot begin to explain the grief.
What’s more difficult is living here in South Florida. I’m about a 24-hour drive away from them, on mission, and seeking to be intentional with the people around me at The Brook, my colleagues, and my students. It sounds so selfish, but often times I don’t want to build relationships here, or seek the restoration of this city when things aren’t restored within my own family. I spend time mentoring young girls in South Florida when I could be with my younger sister. Even as lives are being changed and people are inspired, I’m upset and wondering why God would send me halfway across the country to shine his light when the same light seems dimly lit within my own family. To me, it isn’t fair.
Even as I write this, I’m still learning how to be intentional with others despite how I feel, and I’m trying to take the advice of a colleague’s recent encouragement; that possibly the relationships that I do build here could help mend the ones back in Kansas City, and perhaps God wants me to focus on what’s right in front of me – for once. I hate (yet secretly love) when God uses the least likely people to tell you some truth that you didn’t even know you needed to hear. I guess it’s just another sign that God has me where he wants me.
Yet, I’m fighting hard to remain available to those around me, spiritually and emotionally.
The desire to see my family restored would be a wonderful gift, but am I worshiping God because of his gifts or just because he’s God? I have to ask myself that question every day, as rhetorical as it may be, and give an honest answer.
Until next time…